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Between A Fleet And A Hard Place

Posted on Dec 30, 2019 @ 6:43am by Lieutenant Eve Dalziel
Edited on on Dec 30, 2019 @ 6:43am

Mission: Last Days of Empire

“Between A Fleet And A Hard Place”

(Continued from “Outreach”)


Scene: Dalziel’s Office
Stardate: [2.19] 1229.1716

While Jake’s kids obviously had the Starfleet pedigree, in spades, Eve never considered them any more troublesome than any other children. However, it appeared that her assistant was not prepared to deal with minors. He hadn’t done much during their meeting but pack away several guava and cheese filled pastries and at least two cups of strong tea.

“It’s going to be fine. There was no harm done,” the Cardassian born woman soothed. Owen had never struck her as the nervous type, but after a conversation with Iphie regarding Dahlia and Ben’s unorthodox ‘visit’ to the Counseling department, Eve thought it best to touch base with her assistant. After all, she didn’t want the kids afraid to come back, and she didn’t want her right hand man to dissolve into a puddle of panic every time they crossed the threshold.

“I suppose you’re right,” he admitted reluctantly, setting his cup down.

“That’s the spirit. Besides, children can smell fear,” she said mischievously after a sip of mocha.

“*What*?” His sea-colored eyes widened.

“I was joking.” She’d always assumed Arion was a ladies’ man due to his good looks and perpetually single status, but maybe it wasn’t the commitment he was wary of; it was the procreation.

As if on cue, Captain Smooshy trotted in, tongue lolling out of his mouth, looking pleased with himself. “If it isn’t the pug of the hour,” Owen commented, offering the most senior officer a piece of flaky danish, which he readily took, sitting on an unoccupied chair with a casual but upright stance.

“I just want you to remember one thing- while Smooshy is a Captain and completely capable of running a counseling session, even though it might be a bit one-sided, you are allowed to interrupt for several reasons, especially in the case of an unaccompanied child with whom we need permission from the parent or guardian.”

“I am,” he repeated, albeit not very convincingly. “Speaking of which, we still need to ask the Commander for that permission. I could barely get Ms. Bonviva to admit she’s related to them.”

Eve smiled, recalling her brief but colorful conversation with the Chef. “That sounds pretty accurate. Parents are for discipline… Aunties are for spoiling.”

“Then you’ll speak to Commander Crichton?”

Eve stood up. Sooner was better than later. “Just save me some of that baklava and I’ll take care of it now.”


Scene: Bridge
Time Index: a few minutes later

The Bridge was already enrobed in flashing crimson light by the time Eve stumbled out of the turbolift. So much for stealing a moment to talk to Jake about Ben’s request for counseling. She knew he liked to keep private things private when it came to his family.

It easily looked like they had much more pressing matters on their hands. The viewscreen was now even more crowded with ships; some Klingon, some Orion. The two factions were poised on the cusp of battle, and the PHOENIX was caught in the middle, at best unwanted, and at worst a target.

Lieutenant Crow spoke. “The tetryonic matrix is holding. Communications between ships are still nearly impossible.”

Byte cocked his head to one side in an attempt to look thoughtful. {{Captain. We will have to consider if this is the best course of action, now that the Orions have arrived.}}

“A lack of communication could be seen as an act of war, even if the reason is a good one,” Jake admitted. They were just trying to buy time for the planetside team, hoping that some of the answers they were so desperately searching for were hidden in that prison.

“Can we detect if the Orions are trying to reach out to anyone?” Kane barked to no one in particular.

“I’m on it,” Karri replied, her hands manipulating the controls deftly.

Eve sighed. Being familiar with the Intel world, she felt somewhat obliged to tow the company line, but in this case she could not imagine what was so important about the SATET that protecting its secrets could cause an interstellar incident, and that said incident was a better outcome than simply telling Captain Kane at the start of the mission why they needed the ship back, or who might have wanted its abilities for their own deviant purposes.

The Science Officer provided her findings. “Captain Kane, they have open channels to the Klingon General’s vessel and the PHOENIX. So they’re not playing favorites.”

Byte’s cornflower eyes stared blankly forward. {{I do not detect any weapons being powered up within either faction.}}

She looked at the two men again. Kane and Crichton were both standing in front of the display, several feet apart, in the stance of two cowboys at a shootout. There was not any obvious animosity, but there was also not a sense that they agreed on the next step to be taken. It wasn’t like Eve expected the two men to agree; they were very different people. But she always felt that their opposing views demonstrated a balanced approach. The balance was not there this time.

“It’s your call,” Jake said deferentially.

Kane put a hand up to his jaw pensively, another of his patented moves, and considered Admiral T’sen’s words from the orders he had received: ‘...a certain amount of force, or the threat of it, may be necessary to accomplish your objective.’ But what clues did they have to the SATET’s disapperance? None. They didn’t know which one of them was the *real* enemy, or if either of them was. Perhaps the SATET was involved in its own plans that did not involve either faction. Then looked across to his Second. His children were on board. Were their lives worth the use of force when they so few answers? Were any of their lives worth that? The concept of negotiation had crossed the man’s mind briefly, but without leverage there was no reason to try to mediate.

Kane didn’t like this at all, being backed into a corner. But he saw no other way. “Helm. Prepare to fall back at full impulse at my signal, then switch to warp four once we are clear of the other ships. We’re moving out.” He turned to Crow. “Stop jamming the signals and open up a dual channel to both Is'toQ’s ship and the lead Orion vessel. This shouldn’t take long.”

Kane took a breath and planted his feet as the split screen appeared a few seconds later. “This is Captain Kane of the USS PHOENIX. We are attempting to locate the USS SATET, which was last reported in this sector of space. We have no interest in the matters of private citizens. Therefore, we will be abandoning our search immediately. Kane out.” He moved his hand sharply to cut the transmission, and Ms. Crow obliged.

“Engage,” he told the helm before walking the three exacting steps back to his seat. Other than the movements from the helm as they followed the course instructions, there was stony silence on the Bridge. They were leaving the immediate threat behind, but their away team and extraction team were still at Gran’kothar. However, for the moment, their best chance to help them was to stop acting like prey.


NRPG: He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day? I hope so.

Susan Ledbetter
Lieutenant Eve Dalziel


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